Posted by: HIM | 27 May 2009

Our New Corporate Identity

Last week, some 400 leaders attended the Leadership Conference (LC) on the theme “Leadership That Lasts” in the tranquil city of Kuching, East Malaysia.

At the close of the LC, Pastor Simon Eng launched our new name – Hope International Ministries (H.I.M.). This new name also signifies a new chapter for Hope international churches under HIM, our Lord Jesus Christ! A brand new look to go with our new name was also unveiled.

HIM-Logo

Our new visual identity reflects our foundation in Christ and his transforming love as depicted in the Ichthus and the Cross. It is our vision to bring this message to the ends of the earth, seen here in the four corners of the globe. We are the messengers, the disciples of Christ symbolised by the 12 rays fulfilling the Great Commission at the dawn of each new day with renewed hope; which is denoted by the rising sun.
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favour and honour…”Psalm 84:11a

In line with the launch, we also reviewed our Mission Statement so as to convey that same spirit and commitment that have fired our hearts the last 20 years in a more contemporary wording.

Our updated Mission Statement now reads:

Fulfilling the Great Commission
by raising Christ-centred disciples
to plant vibrant, biblical churches
in our city, country and all over the world

The new name, new look and new wordings all point us to one unchanging core – we remain committed to fully engage ourselves in the Great Commission!

Posted by: HIM | 15 May 2009

President’s Post

Pastor Simon Eng

Pastor Simon Eng

Dear Members of Hope,

As I travel to our churches in the various regions over the recent months, there were still questions abounding, regarding HGI and our former Leaders. Let me share with you all once again, our present position and the future we are working on.

All our International churches are still working together under the name of HGI. To date, our churches remain intact and united, except for one or two in certain regions, where the RMCs and I are working to resolve outstanding questions of the past. These will be finalised in the next few months.

Soon, we will be moving away from using the name HGI to H.I.M (Hope International Ministries). This new name will also signify a new beginning for the International churches under HIM, our Lord Jesus Christ! We are excited about this and will be looking forward to the launch of this new name. A new logo is on the way. Our Mission Statement will be re-stated using more contemporary wordings, but with the same spirit and commitment that have fired our hearts and lives the last 20 years!

To answer some of our members who have not had the information regarding our former Leaders. HGI/HIM is no longer in any association with Dr Joseph (DJ), PN and Somthob. We have moved apart from each other’s ministries and we are not interacting in each other’s activities any longer. See our previous release for more details, if needed.

Regarding sister Rubina, HGI/HIM is also choosing to work separately at this time. We are not in association with her nor the churches in her Association of Hope Churches. However, we are open to relate as Christian brothers ad sisters.

Moving ahead into the future, we are making more efforts to interact and fellowship with other non-Hope churches, as we want to serve together with the Leaders around us. We have decided to also open up our pulpit and invite other Pastors or Leaders to input into our churches. We recognise that other churches are also called by God to impact and influence the community around us.

HGI/HIM is determined to fulfill God’s Great Commission! We do not intend to slow down nor be hindered by the past. I have asked you all to PRAY, be EMPOWERED by the Holy Spirit and UNITE together to move ahead! Let us continue to RISE UP to serve and minister in the might and momentum of the Holy Spirit. Don’t look back, but look AHEAD and look UP! Make the future days count, and make them fruitful. God is with the fully committed and that’s what we will be.

Our Leaders and Pastors are coming together in Kuching, Malaysia to advance God’s work and God’s people. We continue to strategise, plan, teach God’s Word, and pray that God’s Hands will grant us “God’s Speed”.

Till the next time I write, may His favour go with us all.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Simon Eng

Posted by: HIM | 6 May 2009

Highlights of the Coming LC

Posted by: HIM | 23 April 2009

Check This Out and Get Cracking

We covered the Biblical Pattern and Purpose of Plurality in Biblical Leadership in our previous posts. Today, Dr Wilson Lim will wrap up this article with the Nature of Plurality in Biblical Leadership.

Plurality In Attitude

Plurality does not consist of just numbers. Simply having 3 elders in a local church does not in itself constitute plurality of leadership. There must be an attitude of desiring to function in plurality. Without such a desire, any plurality will only be in external form but not in heart. Otherwise, when the crunch comes, it will not be practised. Some may insist on unilateral decision-making. Others may not desire to reach unity in their decision-making. The end product would be an ineffective leadership team.

In fact, the plurality in attitude is critical especially when there is no plurality in leadership yet. There will be times when a leadership team or a plurality of eldership does not yet exist. However the attitude of desiring plurality will go a long way towards developing a plurality in leadership eventually. Further, it will help the top leader function with some element of plurality even though the form may not yet be available.

Plurality and Decision-making

Plurality in decision-making does not always mean that consensual agreement is required for every decision. Rather, it can mean that one is delegated the authority within certain scope to make independent decisions. However, those decisions must be held accountable to the team. In the case of Timothy, for example, he had the authority to make unilateral decisions in the appointment and removal of elders in Ephesus. However, his decisions were held accountable to the apostolic team.

Even the apostle Paul had the authority to make unilateral decisions within his scope of churches. However, he could be held accountable for his leadership by the other apostles. Fundamentally, plurality in decision-making means accountability.

First Amongst Equals and Plurality

The concept of first amongst equals can be seen in the leadership of Peter and later James (Acts 1:15-20; Acts 2:14; Acts 12:17; Acts 15:13-22; Acts 21:18-19). While all were apostles, yet within the apostles it was obvious that Peter was the lead apostle initially and later James became the lead apostle. Even in the apostolic team of Barnabas and Paul, Barnabas was the lead apostle and subsequently Paul took the lead. In Jerusalem, where there were apostles and elders, James became the lead apostle and elder over the church. The manner in which he and Peter functioned reveals to us some aspects about the lead role and its place within plurality.

Basically, the lead role usually involves being the primary spokesperson as demonstrated by Peter’s speaking on behalf of the early church. It is also demonstrated by James that the lead person has the chairperson’s role that usually leads the decision-making process and also brings it to its conclusions. In other words, the lead person is one whom others recognise as having the leadership gifting and the mandate/anointing to be in the leading role.

The important balance is to recognise a lead role within the plurality of leadership. One who is given the authority to lead, yet at the same time is accountable as an equal within the plurality of leadership.

When Plurality Is Yet To Be

There are times when plurality cannot yet exist. In examining the Apostle Paul’s approach to appointment of leadership in the pioneering church, we note that elders were often appointed at a later stage. This may occur many months even a couple of years later. Thus, at times there may be situations where plurality of leadership at the highest level may not exist. This occurred because there were not sufficient believers who were appropriately qualified to be elders (1 Tim 3:1-13, Tit 1:6-9, 1 Pet 5:1-11).

handsIn today’s terms, this may occur when a pastor pioneers a church and it consists of mostly new converts. It takes times for leadership to rise and be proven. In such situations, a plurality of leadership may not yet be possible. However, within a few years, a plurality of eldership in the local church must come into fruition. During that season, it is particularly important that the top leadership be accountable to other leaders, to those higher in authority and also to peers in leadership such as other pastors. The same should apply to those in higher levels of leadership as well.

When Plurality Does Not Exist

If, after an extended period of time, there is still no plurality of leadership and the top leadership is not accountable to other leaders, then it is unbiblical in its form and practise. And if the top leadership has no real desire to have such plurality then it is the leadership that is also unbiblical in its intent. In such cases, it is clearly not aligned with God’s overall purposes for biblical leadership.

Conclusion

It is concluded that any ecclesiastical structure that lacks plurality in its leadership, is not in conformity to the biblical pattern. That is not God’s ideal. Granted that in the initial stages of establishing a church or movement there may lack a properly functioning plurality, however, it should be of priority to establish a true plurality of leadership even at the highest levels.

Dr Wilson Lim thanks Dr Ian Foley for his contributions and James Loke for his comments.

In our previous posts on this subject, the biblical pattern for plurality of biblical leadership was considered. This week, Dr Wilson Lim writes on another important aspect – the Purpose of Plurality, particularly in leadership.

The power of plurality

In Matt 18:18-20, Jesus emphatically declares that where two or three come together in Jesus name, He is there with them. And whatever they bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, whatever they loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Thus, there is spiritual authority in plurality. This serves to reinforce the importance of plurality in leadership as it provides an increased level of spiritual authority. Divine unity taps into increased spiritual effectiveness (Lev 26:8, Ps 133). An example is seen in the Jericho incident where the unity of the Israelites led to the unleashing of God’s power against the walls of Jericho. God requires unity as it is a reflection of His nature and character. Unity is most obvious when it exists within a plurality of leadership, as it does in the Godhead.

Headship of Christ

Christ is the Head of His Body, the Church (Eph 1:22-23, Col 1:18). The rule of Christ over His Church is achieved via His ascension gifted five-fold ministers (Eph 4:11-13). By this very act of delegating authority amongst many different gifted leaders within His body (1 Cor 12:27-28), it is not possible to attain to the fullness of Christ’s leadership or to the fullness of Christ-like maturity in the church unless there is a unified plurality in the leadership. A plurality of leadership is needed in the church to bring together the different elements of giftedness and to bring about a greater level of overall wisdom in leadership as well as more balanced insights into the will and purposes of God.

An apostle tends to bring an incredible sense of purpose and urgency to the fulfilment of God’s plans. Yet an apostle without the balance of other ministries can cause the organisation to become highly task-oriented and risk-taking. This will probably lead to high rates of burn out or even organisational collapse due to some major errors in judgment. Thus it is very significant that the church is to be built on the foundation of both apostles and prophets (Eph 2:20). Therefore, the apostle will bring enormous management and leadership abilities, but may easily overlook the direction of God, whereas the prophet will hear God’s direction, but not have the ability to implement that direction in the body. Both are needed together.

A prophet tends to bring a highly developed sense of the intimacy and awesomeness of God. Yet a prophet without the balance of other ministries can cause the organisation to become too spontaneous in its approach and be imbalanced in its emphasis. This is because the prophet is often preoccupied with the current emphasis of the Spirit of God but fails to bring it into proper balance with the previous emphasis.

A teacher tends to bring a deep insight and respect for the Word of God. Yet a teacher without the balance of other ministries can cause the organisation to become too absorbed with deeper understanding of God’s Word to the detriment of the mission of the church to reach out. The organisation can become strong and solid but perhaps too solid to move. The evangelist brings the missions focus, the pastor brings the personal relationship focus, but all of these need the apostle to integrate, balance and focus their activities. It is also dangerous to the health of the church when the apostle attempts to incorporate all five ministries into himself.

When there is plurality in leadership and the five-fold ministries are functioning together in unity, then there is greater clarity on the will and purposes of God and a greater wisdom in implementing it. In that way the Headship of Christ is more effectively revealed and put into effect.

Plurality and accountability

Plurality in leadership enables accountability to operate more effectively. This is seen in some of the actions of various key apostles. When the Apostle Peter was involved in the conversion of Cornelius’s household, he made himself accountable to the council of apostles (Acts 11:1-4) as did Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journeys, and in the dispute with Judaizing Christians (Acts 15). In other words, they practiced accountability and transparency.

The wisdom of plurality

There are many other obvious reasons for plurality of leadership. It provides for a multitude of counsellors (Prov 11:14) which will help protect against isolated, unilateral thinking and to help provide greater wisdom in decision-making as well as in seeking the will of God (Act 13:1-3) with greater clarity. It is also obvious in the New Testament that consensus is sought within this plurality of leadership. And not only within a given level of leadership, but also with other wider circles of leadership or membership in the local church. This way, autocratic and coercive rule is avoided.

Dr Wilson Lim thanks Dr. Ian Foley for his contributions and James Loke for his comments.

Look out for next week’s post when we’ll conclude with the Nature of Plurality in Biblical Leadership.


Posted by: HIM | 8 April 2009

President’s Post

Pastor Simon Eng

Pastor Simon Eng

Dear Members of Hope,

Usually after serious setbacks, we need to pick ourselves up again, re-start our “engines” and get on with the task. For some of us, the re-firing comes slowly, whilst others are all ready to move.

I am reminded of Moses, who saw God again in the experience of the burning bush (Exodus 3). Let me encourage you with this passage:

Have A Fresh Encounter With God

Moses met God anew in this encounter. He saw the miraculous sight where the bush was on fire, but not burnt. He heard God calling him afresh.

Meet God personally and have a fresh experience with Him. See His Glory again and hear Him afresh. You will experience an up-lifting time in your faith and in your spirit. Let God speak to your heart and assure you that He is still with us; in fulfilling His plans with us.

You can even tell Him all your disappointments and what your concerns are. He will be there for you. Pour out your heart to Him. Let Him strengthen you.

See Fresh Miracles

After this encounter, Moses decided to go see Pharaoh and we can read of the many miracles that God demonstrated to assure Moses and to support his mission.

Likewise, let our churches and our people begin to ask God for fresh miracles to happen – in our lives, in our churches and in our missions. Be encouraged again to see His power at work – touching lives, changing situations and bringing forth miracles.

Let us go forward as He has promised to be there with us. Let fresh miracles be seen and be experienced so that new doors and new possibilities will open up for us.

Have A Fresh Start

As reluctant as Moses was, he picked himself up and decided to go do what God told him to do. His heart told him that this was what he had been waiting for. This sounded right!

Pick yourself up. Leave the past behind and move on ahead! If we never start, we will be the loser. We know God’s heart and we have committed ourselves to the plough. We should never turn back nor give up. We have been commissioned in the Great Commission of God. We move on!

Re-start again – start out strongly and lift up the hearts of our people; get our teams going enthusiastically again to plant new churches.

This is our call and our vision!

Finally, let me share that God desires for us to finish the work that He called us to. Though some of us have been together the last twenty years, let us be motivated afresh to reach for the finishing line. It’s not the time to slow down, but the time to rise up. It’s the time to look up to Him, hear Him and move to fulfill His vision in our lives.

May God bless you all abundantly!

Pastor Simon Eng
HGI President

Posted by: HIM | 1 April 2009

Biblical Leadership Functions in Plurality

Last week, we learned about the Biblical pattern of plurality of the Godhead and of the elders in the local church.

Today, we bring you the continuation of our teaching article by Dr Wilson Lim …..

Plurality of deacons

In the Scriptures, deacons are invariably referred to in the plural with the exception of 1 Tim 3:12 where the singular is employed simply in describing the required qualifications of a deacon. Again, it is obvious that the biblical teaching is a plurality of deacons should be functioning in a local church.

Plurality of apostles

It may seem that Paul, being an apostle and having the authority to appoint or remove elders from within the local churches as well as to direct the affairs of local churches, could act unilaterally in his leadership. However, it must not be forgotten that Paul was himself one of many apostles and indeed, functioned within a plurality of apostles.

Acts clearly reveal the presence of plurality in the apostles from the very inception of the church. For Jesus did not appoint one leader but a plurality of leadership over the Church. There were 12 apostles over the Jerusalem church from the beginning. And as the apostolic ministries increased, they continued to function in submission and accountability to one another, rather than in isolation. Since the apostles were the highest level of leadership, it provides insight that even the highest level of leadership in the early church was a plurality. Never was there only one apostolic ministry nor did these apostles function independently of others. Paul himself, submitted to the council of apostles and their judgment in relation to the Gentile believers (Acts 15).

Even in the case of Timothy and Titus, they were part of an apostolic team with Paul. In other words, they did not function independently but in plurality.

Non-plurality of leadership in the Old Testament.

Having demonstrated that plurality in leadership is the pattern in the New Testament, it is important to revisit the Old Testament and to examine why plurality did not usually exist amongst the highest levels of Israelite leadership. It should be noted that apart from the highest level of leadership, plurality was the norm. The elders of the tribes and clans functioned in plurality in the time of Moses. In the time of Joshua and beyond, leadership of cities/towns resided upon a council of elders. In the synagogues, a council of spiritual leaders were the norm.

A key reason for the difference is that the Spirit of God did not reside upon many in the Old Testament. In fact, the Holy Spirit did not dwell with the believer as He does today. The Holy Spirit would come upon, fill or anoint during the Old Testaments times for spans of time or seasons (Jud 6:34, Jud 11:29, Num 11:25-26). However, unlike the New Testament believer, the Holy Spirit does not indwell or remain as a deposit (2 Cor 1:21-22). And it is precisely because the Spirit of God did not indwell these Old Testament leaders, that their ability to seek God’s guidance was limited. Consequently, the need to consult the High Priest and the urim and thummim, or the prophet of God.

It is proposed therefore, that the unified functioning of a plurality of leadership at the highest level would be difficult due to their limited anointing and ability to hear from God together. After all, Scriptures clearly indicate that all matters are to be established in the presence of 2 or 3 witnesses (Deut 19:15, Matt 18:16).

Further, in the Old Testament, God’s desire was to rule directly over His people. He did this through individuals to whom He gave an extraordinary anointing. This meant that God would oversee this human leadership very directly and deal immediately with any wrongdoing on the part of this individual. This is seen especially in God’s reaction and also Samuel’s, when Israel asked for a king. This was taken as a rejection of God himself and also to lead to consequences in that the king was seen as an imperfect representative of God’s rule in contrast to the direct rule of God through Moses, Joshua and the Judges. As a result the prosperity of the whole nation was directly related to how the king functioned, in contrast to before when the prosperity was related to how the people functioned. The lack of plurality of the king’s rule here illustrates the problems that arise when plurality of human leadership is absent. In the New Testament times, the apostles functioned as a team of leaders representing God’s rule rather than a single king as in the Old Testament period of the kings.

Conclusion

It is concluded that if God Himself functions in plurality and He had ordained His apostles to function in plurality, and the local church leadership to function in plurality, then it is clear that God’s intention is for plurality at every level of leadership!

(Dr Wilson Lim would like to thank Dr. Ian Foley for his contributions and to James Loke for his comments.)

Keep a look out  in the coming weeks for the Purpose and Nature of Plurality in Biblical Leadership…..

Posted by: HIM | 26 March 2009

An Appendix

The following material complements yesterday’s post – Biblical Leadership Functions in Plurality

Quoted from BIBLICAL ELDERSHIP by Alexander Strauch

Examples of Eldership: Consider, as recorded in the New Testament, the consistent pattern of plural leadership by elders that existed among the first Christian churches.

  • Elders are found in the churches of Judea and the surrounding area (Acts 11:30; James 5:14, 15).
  • Elders governed the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15, 21).
  • Among the Pauline churches, leadership by the plurality of elders was established in the churches in Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch (Acts 14:20-23); in the church in Ephesus (Acts 20:17; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; 5:17-25); in the church in Philippi (Phil. 1:1); and in the churches on the island of Crete (Titus 1:5).
  • According to the well-traveled letter of 1 Peter, elders existed in churches throughout northwestern Asia Minor: Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1 Peter 1:1; 5:1).
  • There are strong indications that elders existed in churches in Thessalonica (1 Thess. 5:12) and Rome (Heb. 13:17).

Instruction About Elders: Not only does the New Testament provide examples of elder-led churches, it includes explicit instructions to churches about how to care for, protect, discipline, select, restore, and call the elders. The apostles intended these instructions to be obeyed, and they should be regarded as normative teaching for all Christian churches at all times.

  • James instructs those who are sick to call for the elders of the church (James 5:14).
  • Paul instructs the Ephesian church to financially support elders who labor “at preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17, 18).
  • Paul instructs the local church about protecting elders from false accusation, disciplining elders who sin, and restoring fallen elders (1 Tim. 5:19-22).
  • Paul instructs the church regarding the proper qualifications for eldership (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).
  • To the church in Ephesus, Paul states that anyone who desires to be an elder desires a “fine work” (1 Tim. 3:1).
  • Paul instructs the church to examine the qualifications of prospective elders (1 Tim. 3:10; 5:24, 25).
  • Peter instructs the young men of the church to submit to church elders (1 Peter 5:5).
  • Paul teaches that elders are the household stewards, leaders, instructors, and teachers of the local church (Titus 1:7, 9; 1 Thess. 5:12;).

Instruction and Exhortation to Elders: Besides giving instruction to churches about elders, Paul, Peter, and James give these instructions directly to elders:

  • James tells elders to pray for the sick and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord (James 5:14).
  • Peter directly charges elders to willingly pastor and oversee the local congregation (1 Peter 5:1, 2).
  • Peter warns elders not to be too domineering (1 Peter 5:3).
  • Peter promises elders that when the Lord Jesus returns they will receive “the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4).
  • Peter exhorts elders to be clothed in humility (1 Peter 5:5).
  • Paul reminds the Ephesians elders that the Holy Spirit placed them in the church to be overseers and pastor the church of God (Acts 20:28).
  • Paul exhorts elders to guard the church from false teachers (Acts 20:28) and to be alert to the constant threat of false doctrine (Acts 20:31).
  • Paul reminds elders to work hard, help the needy, and be generous like the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:35).

Sourced by Dr Wilson Lim

Biblical Leadership Functions in Plurality continues next week ……

Posted by: HIM | 25 March 2009

Biblical Leadership Functions in Plurality

An important issue that confronts the church of today is the concept of plurality in leadership. There are many churches today where the senior pastor is the person who exercises the sole authority. In apostolic movements as well, the apostle can be regarded as the top spiritual authority and exercise decision-making unilaterally. This raises the issue whether such a form of leadership structure is biblical. This paper by Dr. Wilson Lim addresses this issue.

A Biblical Pattern

It has been argued by some that the leadership pattern demonstrated in the Old Testament provides the biblical basis for a key leader who is endowed with the final authority. After all, Moses led the entire nation of Israel and it is obvious that he alone made key decisions in the life of the nation. Further, God appointed him and judged those who arose against his leadership.

This is further reinforced by the kingship in Israel. These kings clearly represented the highest level of leadership and they had the authority to make unilateral decisions and they did not appear to be accountable to anyone else, except God Himself.

Thus, it may seem that there is a valid argument for a single highest level leadership – except for one major problem. God seemed to change the pattern in the New Testament. In a more comprehensive analysis of the Scriptures it will become evident that the ideal pattern is that of plurality.

Plurality of the Godhead

A key principle in determining what an ideal pattern might be is to examine God Himself. As God is perfect and eternally so, the pattern that God functions in will be enlightening.

We know that God is not singular in Person but triune in Personhood. The Godhead is eternally distinguishable in Personhood and function, yet indivisible in essence. God has revealed Himself as eternally existing as God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19, Eph 2:18, Eph 4:4-6). Indeed, God’s leadership may be seen as an exercise in plurality. God the Father has the first role in the mode of operation while the Son has the second mode while the Holy Spirit has the third. For example, in redemption of mankind, God the Father planned redemption, the Son paid the price of redemption and the Holy Spirit applies redemption. In another example, God the Father planned the leadership over the Church, Christ is the Head of the Church and the Holy Spirit is the executor in leading God’s people. Hence, the Godhead is one in exercising leadership.

Therefore, the Godhead functions in plurality that is unified. And because God is perfect and desires perfection, He continues this principle of plurality even in creation. We see this in the creatures God created. Male and female he typically created them (Gen 6:19-20). There are two complementing genders that require one another to propagate. In the human race, the husband and wife complement one another to bring a greater wholeness and strength in a family (Gen 2:20-25). Nature itself was designed to be in a symbiotic relationship, a relationship which is mutually beneficial, where every form of plant and animal life is intricately connected for mutual survival and well-being. Plurality is found in all forms of creation.

In the area of spiritual leadership, we see the same pattern emerging in the New Testament.

Plurality of Elders in the Local Church

The New Testament reveals that elders were appointed to govern the local church (see Appendix). It is obvious that Paul placed special emphasis upon the leadership role of elders. He gave specific instructions about the responsibilities and qualifications of an elder (see Appendix) and no higher responsibility is described above that of an elder, within a local church. All this provides clear evidence that elders were the intended highest level of leadership within the local church. Invariably, the plural as in “elders” is used and even in the few passages (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:7) where the singular “elder” is referred to, it is clear that the context refers to a plurality of elders. Therefore, the general instructions of each book and the context of each passage make it clear that Paul taught that a plurality of elders should be appointed in each church.

Even in heaven, there will be 24 elders who rule (Rev 4:4) before the throne of God. This is again, a plurality.

But it may be asked, what about Timothy and Titus? Did not their role seem like that of senior pastors who were able to appoint and remove elders under them?

In examining 1 Thessalonians, it is obvious that Paul wrote the epistle with his co-workers Silas and Timothy. In 1 Thessalonians chapter 2, Paul began to describe the motivations they had in preaching the Gospel to the Thessalonians. And in 1 Thess 2:6 Paul declared, “As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you…”. In other words, Paul included both Timothy and Silas in the circle of apostles of Christ. It is very likely that Timothy and Silas were intimately involved in the establishing of the church at Thessalonica as they were part of Paul’s apostolic team (Acts 16). Therefore, at the very least, Timothy must have been an apostolic representative and more likely, he was actually an apostle of Christ. If it is true that Timothy was an apostle, it would explain why he had the authority to unilaterally appoint and remove elders.

In the case of Titus, it is likely that his status was similar to Timothy. At the very least, Titus must have been an apostolic representative empowered to appoint elders in the local churches in Crete (Tit 1:5). Thus, Titus was not a senior pastor of a local church. He was commissioned (Tit 1:5) to oversee the proper establishment of a number of churches, in terms of their eldership and the proper functioning of the churches.

It is concluded that the example of Timothy and Titus cannot be used to refute the functioning of a plurality of elders in the local church.

… to be continued in the next post.

[Dr. Wilson Lim wishes to thank Dr. Ian Foley for his contributions and James Loke for his comments.]


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